U.S. zoos prepare for avian flu

New guidelines focus on biocontainment, recommend vaccination in case of disease threat

Graciela Flores(graciela_flores@nasw.org)
Dec 13, 2005

The organization representing U.S. zoos and aquariums recently released a set of guidelines for monitoring and preventing avian influenza within their walls. As part of the measure, American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) officials suggest isolating and decontaminating areas if they become affected by the flu, and eventually closing certain facilities.

"Even if we never see avian influenza in this country, this is a good thing to be doing," Donald Janssen, associate director of veterinary services at the San Diego Wild Animal Park, who helped draft the recommendations, told The Scientist. "But in all likelihood, in some form or another, we will see the high pathogen strain of avian influenza H5N1."

Robert Cook, chief veterinarian and vice president of the Wildlife Conservation Society -- which operates five parks in New York City -- noted that avian flu could hit U.S. zoos though birds or people, although the...

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